Category Archives: Childcare

Q&A: Changing daycare providers

I'm out of the city today, so if anyone signs up for More Moxie today or tomorrow, you won't get the first assignment until I get back early Friday morning, but you will get it!

Libby writes:

"My son is 13 months old, and he's beenat the same in-home daycare since he was 6 months old (which is when I
went back to work).  He does very well there, and the babysitter is
a sweet, sweet mom of 3 other kids.  But there were some disadvantages
that made us decide that we should move him.  One is that it is really
out of my way to go to her house.  I lose about 80 mins a day driving
him to and from daycare, and my husband can never help with the drop off
and pickup.  She watches some neighborhood kids after school, and
we are not comfortable with the # of kids she is watching during those
hours.  She also has a 'special needs' son, who is becoming more of
a handful the older he gets.  And, overall my husband has never been
comfortable with him there.  He prefers the structure and organization
of a daycare center.  So we made the decision to move him in 2 months
to a really good daycare center closer to home.  

I've been a wreck ever since.  I
feel like I broke up with her, and I've been crying for 2 days.  I
know she really cares about my son, and it breaks my heart to move him.
 And I know that she really needs the money, so I feel like I'm causing
her stress – which I know shouldn't be my concern, but I can't help it.
 This is my first child, and I feel so torn up about taking him away
from the only caregiver he has known besides us.  I truly believe
that moving him is the right decision in the long run – my gut tells me
it's time for a change.  But, I never expected all the tears over
this transition.  I'm sure people have survived this type of move
before – am I crazy for being so broken up over this? "

You are sooooo not crazy for being broken up over this. Childcare is super-important. If you're not happy with your child's care it affects your whole life. And making a major change like this is stressful for everyone.

But it sounds like you've thought it through from all the angles, and moving is the right decision for you. This is probably a good age–15-month-olds tend to be very social, and he'll adapt quickly.

I hope she can find someone else to fill your son's spot to keep up her income. Even though you know it shouldn't be your first concern, it still makes you feel bad.

My kids' amazing nanny left on Thursday, so we're going through some grieving here, too. It hurts, to know that things will be different for your child and that they'll miss someone who loves them. And you'll miss her, too, because she shared your son with you.

Does anyone have any tips to help Libby with this? I'm not worried that her son will have trouble transitioning, but it sounds like she could use some words of encouragement.

Q&A: “forced” potty training

Jenny writes:

"My son just turned 2last week.  He goes to daycare 3 days a week, which he seems to enjoy (not
as much as time with Mommy, but Mommy's got help bring home the bacon).  He
is transitioning from the "Toddler I" class to "Toddler II."  He spends
half his day in the first class, then half his day in the second.  In a
couple weeks, he'll be in the 2nd class all day.  My problem is with the
way they handle potty training in the second class.  They make the effort
to help each kid sit on the little potty a few times a day.  They say they
are just trying to get the kids used to the idea of the potty, learn what their
body does, learn what the toilet does, etc.  They still leave a diaper on
them all day, though.  While that all sounds fine and dandy, I have no
intention of trying to get my son potty trained in the next few months.  I
feel like I'm supposed to be reinforcing this behavior at home, but I just don't
want to do it yet.  He's not showing any of the signs that he's interested
or ready, and from what I hear about boys, if you start when they're 2, it's
going to take you until they're 3-ish anyway.  (I know, all kids are
different, but I just know he's not ready yet, and I have no desire to worry
about this for a really long time unnecessarily.)

Is it ok to just let
the day care people do what they're going to do, and ignore it at home for a
while?  I don't want him getting confused, but I also don't want to force
the issue when he's not interested yet.

Thanks!  I hope
to get a little insight from you and other Moxie readers!"

Mmmmm….bacon. Have you all tried my Bacon-Brown Sugar Coffeecake recipe?


I think that as long as they're not forcing the kids or putting any pressure on them, it's fine. They probably do all kinds of stuff with the kids that you don't do at home, and he's learned that school has one set of rules and expectations and that home has another set.

Also, and I know you didn't ask this because you already know it, but it's totally fine for you not to hop on the potty-training wagon on someone else's schedule. You know your kid and what he's ready for. It's possible that he will end up trained from what they're doing in school, but probably not. (If he does, my bet is that it will be the influence of peer pressure, not the sitting-on-the-potty stuff itself.)

But the bottom line is that I don't think he'll get confused, any more than he gets confused by the difference in his routine during the week and on weekends. So just nod and smile about all of it, and do what you're going to do anyway.

Has anyone else ignored potty training at home while a child was going through the motions at school? How did it go?

Q&A: End-of-year gifts for teachers, daycare providers, et al.

This is another one we talk about every year. Last year I made the mistake of rolling it in with a discussion about Santa, so when you read last year's post you'll have to wade through lots of (interesting, but off-topic) Santa-talk.

The stand-out comment from last year's thread was when a teacher said:

One parent actually said to me "Youtaught my daughter to love reading…..I'm not buying you f-ing soap."
and she handed me a wad of money totaling $100.

Then we talked a lot about this idea that cash is somehow tacky, which led to the idea that women (which the majority of teachers and daycare providers are) are traditionally supposed to be "above" cash. And that things we wouldn't hesitate to give cash to men for we give soaps and candles to women for. That's just not right. Women have bills to pay, too.

So I'm going to vote that we stop with the cutesy gifts for women, and go to cash *or* things that really are just symbolic. I can't imagine that a teacher is going to feel bad that you can't afford a cash gift if your child makes a handmade card for the teacher.

Homebaked goods could go either way. Nut allergies? Chocolate aversion? A desire not to overeat? All these things could make homebaked treats not the loving act you intend them to be.

As I'm typing this I think I may be sounding a little like a Scrooge. But I'm think of all the really hardworking moms (many of them) who are teaching our kids to read and use the potty, and what the difference would be for them to be handed money at the end of the year or to go home with scented candles. Only one of those buys new shoes for their kids.

So, can we talk about amounts? Give the situation (daycare, preschool, or elementary school, public or private, how many teachers, where you live, etc.) and what the standard is there.

Also, anyone know what to give NYC bus drivers?? We have a different one in the morning and afternoon, and the morning guy has really gone out of his way to be awesome in several dimensions.

Q&A: More effects of this !@#$%^ war

Michelle writes:

"I'm freaking out a bit and I'm hoping you and the Internets might be able to help calm me down.  In the way of background, our 10 month old son is at an in-home daycare 4 days a week, and has been there since he was 3 months old.  The daycare was recommended to us by some friends who have a 5 year old and a 2 year old.  We have been thrilled with our provider, "Jenny," and she absolutely adores our son.

Jenny's husband returned from a year-long overseas deployment 2 months ago and Jenny has mentioned to me that they've been having trouble adjusting to having him home again.  Then, a couple of days ago, he just left, and Jenny hasn't heard from him since, short of a text message saying he was meeting with a counselor.  I found this out yesterday when I went to pick up my son.  He was in a swing-set baby swing, by himself, and Jenny was on the complete other side of the yard.  He was just hanging out, staring down at the ground.  He wasn't upset, but he was definitely all alone. When I saw him, I was really surprised and upset…  Jenny is usually right there with him.  I ran and grabbed him, and when I turned around to see why Jenny wasn't there, she was sitting in a chair staring off into space.  I asked her if she was okay and that's when she told me what happened with her husband.

I understand why she's distracted, but I worry that with her mind elsewhere she'll be unable to properly care for the kids.  I spoke with the friend of mine I mentioned above, and neither of her kids have said anything about things being "weird" at Jenny's, which makes me feel a bit better.  I also worry, though this is probably my new-mom paranoia coming out, that her husband is going to become violent and come to the house while the kids are there.  It sounds like the person who held his post prior to him arriving committed suicide, and that many of his superiors needed to be replaced because of the stress.

So, what I need, I guess, is some reassurance….  How have other people dealt with it when their daycare provider is having bad personal problems?  And I suspect I'm overreacting when I worry about her husband hurting the kids or hurting her in front of the kids, but I would love for someone to tell me to chill out about it…"

I am so, so, so sorry for Jenny and her husband that this is happening. They are not alone. I've been reading all kinds of articles about how returning military people are having major problems reintegrating into their families and lives when they come back from being deployed. The system is starting to get overwhelmed, and returning military people are slipping through the cracks and families are being destabilized.

It sounds like Jenny has no idea what to do about this. We have no idea if the husband is going to become violent. I wouldn't rule it out, but I also wouldn't say it'll definitely happen. The sooner they can get help, the better off everyone will be, and the more stable the situation will become.

I think the best resolution to the problem would be for you and the other parents to start poking at the system in your area to see what support services there are for returning soldiers and their families. I'd start looking around for EMDR therapists.(EMDR is the process that's showing the best results in treating PTSD effectively and rapidly.) And I'd call the VA and see if there are support groups for families. It's good that he's seeing a counselor. Very good, and seriously lessens the likelihood that he'll be violent. But we have to hope that the counselor knows what to do with PTSD cases.

Does anyone out there have experience with getting help from the system for a returning soldier and family? Jenny and her husband aren't the only ones that are dealing with this. And not everyone has a Michelle who's worried about it.

Bring our troops home NOW.

Babysitter monitoring idea

I know I can’t be the only one who’s seen a really good babysitter and wished I could let her employers know how lucky they are to ahve her, or, even more upsettingly, seen a babysitter doing something so bad that I wished I could warn her employers. The problem is that unless you know the family, there’s virtually no way to know how to contact the parents, short of following the babysitter home.

The good people at The Opinionated Parent tipped me off to this interesting service from Basically, you sign up with the site, and they give you a license plate to put on your stroller so people can log in to the site and send compliments or danger reports about your babysitter. Read the Opinionated Parent post about it for the details (and to sign up to win a free membership to the service).

I think this raises some interesting issues. To me, putting a license plate on your stroller is so much better than doing a nannycam for all involved. It’s clearly better for the babysitter, because who wants to be videotaped at work without her knowledge? Plus, great nanny skills can be noticed and complimented. And I think it’s better for the employer parents, too, because it gives them a way to get confirmation of their feelings about the babysitter in a more professional way.

I can see two interesting issues with this service. The first is that it doesn’t do anything for people whose babysitters are not out and about in a stroller. And if you do use a stroller all the time (like people do her ein NYC), you still have no way of knowing what’s happening in places and situations in which the stroller isn’t there. So users might not be comfortable with that. (To me, it all goes back to following your gut and not hiring someone you don’t feel good about in the first place. And if the license plate helps you calm down general fears so that you can listen to your gut about that particular babysitter, then that’s great.)

The more interesting issue I can see is what will happen if parents get reported to themselves for bad caretaking behavior! I think we’ve all done things that someone else might construe as bad caretaking. So how are you going to react if someone emails in about something “bad” you’ve done? I’d hope I’d be able to look at it and use it as a reality check (Was it something actually inappropriate that I shouldn’t do again? Or just an immature or stressed-out reaction to loathesome child behavior that I won’t repeat anyway? Or was the reporter off-base?). But if I doubted my own parenting skills, then this could open up a can of worms for me personally.

What do you think? Personally, I think it’s the best solution I’ve seen yet for a situation that has so many inherent problems and sticky issues but is also really high-stakes. But it’s not perfect.

Potty training when you can’t control all the variables

It seems like the parenting zeitgeist is all about potty training lately. I got three questions on the same day about potty training last week, and have been thinking about it a lot myself lately because my son will be three in May and isn’t out of diapers. Then yesterday I spent the afternoon with my BFF and her husband and son, who is almost three and still not completely potty-trained.

As long-time readers know, my older son pretty much potty-trained himself. He started wanting to try it at 16 months and was just really into all things potty. He’d be our bathroom attendant and hand us the toilet paper, stop to observe dogs pooping and peeing on the street, and watch the Bear in the Big Blue House "Potty Time" DVD on a continuous loop. He was in underpants by 27 months during the day, and by 32 months at night.

So I’ve got nothing, because I didn’t really do much of anything other than go with his interests.

The younger one is more of a challenge, though. His personality is completely different, and he really isn’t convinced there are any benefits to being in underpants. Plus I’m at work all day now, so I don’t have the same ability to control the situation on a micro level. And it’s harder to just leave him in underpants all day and not worry about accidents, since we have to leave the house more to work around his older brother’s school schedule.

We’ve talked here about potty training several times in the past few years, and as usual you guys have been a font of information and experience. I’d like to open up another discussion about it, but pick your brains for ideas about training a non-only child who is at the whim of an older child’s schedule, and also for training a child (who isn’t so sure about it) when there’s a childcare issue involved.